...that I forgot myself in the process. I lacked self-responsibility, and most of us do when we are overwhelmed with our emotions. We are usually the type of person that takes care of everyone else’s needs, and takes on other people’s problems and worries. We are the type that can sit for hours on end with a friend who is struggling; have all the time in the world to listen to their issues, and usually feel sorry or guilty when we can’t give our all. We are empathetic, patient and understanding and offer sound advice and encouragement. Never once do we dismiss another person’s struggle or make them feel silly for feeling the way they feel. Because they are entitled to… right?
But aren’t we?
We see others’ ‘imperfections’ as being human, and ours as failures. Why do we allow the anxiety and depression to consume us and paralyse us and why do we turn our anger on to ourselves?
Why do we lack self-responsibility?
When I was working through recovery, I was called to be self-responsible. I was given a task - to write down my thoughts when I was feeling anxious, to really ask myself what I was thinking at that moment. And then later, when exploring the roots under the tree, I was taught to challenge those thoughts with what I had learned. I was not a very good student for some time, because I didn’t give myself a chance. When the thoughts would creep up, I would be quite dismissive of them; rather than be open or accepting of what I was thinking, I would be angry at myself for thinking that way. The general feeling deep inside was ‘grow up… you know better than that…stop being stupid’ and just plain anger. Instead of giving myself a chance, I would tear up the paper and say, ‘I have no time for this,’ and continue my day, snaked in anxiety.
It was a different time for us growing up. We were not taught how to take care of our emotions, and perhaps were even scolded for expressing our feelings or showing ‘negative’ emotions like fear, anger or sadness. We are adults now, but that fact doesn’t magically arm us with the tools we need. Chances are we have taken what we have learned from our past into our present.
I have a friend who is suffering greatly from anxiety. She feels underserving of any self-care, and feels that she will be acting selfishly when I suggested that she begin to help herself. Yet she is the most caring and empathetic person to other people and will shed a tear with your tear in a heartbeat. It is a shame that her lack of self-worth and lack of self-responsibility are a huge road-block to her peace and finding freedom from fear.
I once read a sign that said, “No one is coming.” And this sums it up perfectly. Of course prayers and faith are integral to growth and peace but as I have always believed, God gave us the power of knowledge and the skills to self-help. His hand will not come down from the sky and pull you out of this. Neither will anyone else’s hand. It is time to step up, be ‘selfish’, start by being less responsible for everyone else, and being responsible for yourself. Perhaps step outside of yourself for a moment and imagine you are having coffee with you, and just see then how you would be or what you would say.
This is from Nathaniel Branden’s Six Pillars of Self-Esteem:
On Self Responsibility:
To achieve a healthy level of self-esteem, you must be able to accept who you are and be confident about your decisions and behavior.
But there is another important ingredient in the development of self-esteem that is often overlooked — the ability to take responsibility for your future. To live self-responsibly, you must be able to influence your behavior freely in three major areas:
Remember: You cannot respect or trust yourself if you continually pass on to others the burdens of your existence.